We’ll admit it, those videos where parents use the old Door Slam method to yank out their child’s loose tooth are cute and nostalgic. However, as dental professionals, we also cringe a bit knowing that doors and even more elaborate tooth-pulling techniques aren’t necessary. In fact, pulling baby teeth can be harmful to your child’s oral health.
The Problems with Pulling Baby Teeth
Baby teeth fall out naturally.
The first reason why you shouldn’t pull your child’s tooth is that baby teeth are designed to fall out on their own. Losing baby teeth is a natural process and has been designed through evolution to happen near painlessly and through everyday actions like chewing.
You could damage the root.
A tooth may be wiggly, but that doesn’t always mean it’s ready to come out. It’s true that the loosening of baby teeth is caused by adult teeth pushing towards the surface. However, it is not always a straight line from loose tooth to lost tooth. Pulling a tooth at the first sign of a wiggle could be reacting to a false alarm. Additionally, it’s possible a piece of the tooth might break off and remain below the gumline, causing additional problems.
It can cause issues with adult teeth & jaw alignment.
Even if no damage is done to the root and no teeth fragments are left behind, removing a baby tooth before it’s ready can leave lasting problems in the jaw and incoming teeth. One of the jobs baby teeth have is to hold a place in the jaw for the incoming adult teeth as your child grows. If the baby tooth is removed before the adult tooth pushes it out of the way, the adult tooth loses its spot. This can lead to teeth crowding and an ill-fitted bite.
It can cause dental anxiety in your child.
While not technically a medical issue like damaged roots, a painful or unsuccessful tooth pulling could stress your child and make them resistant to having their teeth looked at in the future. As we’ve discussed before, one of the key ways to reduce dental anxiety in your kids is to model good dental habits and attitude. Trying to remove a tooth before it’s ready and without a dental specialist’s help goes against this recommendation.
Why You Should Pull Your Child’s Loose Tooth
Given all the possibilities for problems, we don’t recommend pulling a loose tooth. If you find yourself dealing with a stubborn one, it’s best to visit your dentist to get their help and expertise. However, in the event you find yourself away from home and your child’s tooth is loose enough you are worried they may swallow or choke on it, we recommend following this video from the American Dental Association.
Pulling your child’s loose tooth may seem like the typical thing to do, but it’s not wise from an oral professional’s perspective. It’s better to let the process happen naturally. Lastly, if you’re concerned about a particular tooth, see your dentist for guidance.
I feel very fortunate to have found a profession as rewarding as the field of Orthodontics! For over 20 years, I have enjoyed creating custom, beautiful smiles for our family of patients all over the Northern Virginia area. You can even find some of our loyal patients across the country and abroad!